Newcastle teen shares first in international competition

October 3, 2014

By Contributor

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PianoProdigyMaxMa 20140700Newcastle’s own Max Ma shared first prize in The Melvin Stecher and Norman Horowitz One-Piano, Four Hands Ensemble in the seventh annual New York International Piano Competition.

“Besides being emotionally cathartic for the artist and the audience, music has power that arguably exceeds that of all other things. It has the unparalleled power to bring people together,” the 17-year-old said. “During a moving performance, there is always a silent moment of empathy and camaraderie amongst audience members. In a rare moment like this, we’re all equal and united as human beings, regardless of the political, social and economic wars that trouble this world.

“I really do love everything about the piano, but this particularly rewarding aspect of performing is what I hold closest to heart.”

The New York International Piano Competition is organized by The Stecher and Horowitz Foundation, of New York, and hosted at the Manhattan School of Music. Twenty-two selected pianists travel from around the globe to vie for $40,000 in prizes and the opportunity for recital appearances.

This year’s event took place from June 22-27 during which the selected competitors participated in four rounds of performing as well as seminars.

“Max is extremely communicative and as a pianist, he has quite a soul,” Norman Horowitz, of The Stecher and Horowitz Foundation, and one of the directors of the competition, said. “He is very introspective and understanding with regard to the composure of the pieces he performs.”

The foundation focuses on maintaining excellence and individuality, and promoting young artists in the pursuit of a career in music.

“While we are currently awaiting Max’s decision regarding his collegiate years, we have great plans for him,” Horowitz said. We present 30 to 35 concerts per year, and we fully intend to bring him in based on his future plans.”

Ma started on his musical path early.

“Classical music has drifted in and out of my ears since a young age, via audio recordings, and concerts at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall that my family would take me to,” Ma said. “Without doubt, all these things have had influence on my musical growth since.”

Ma is an aspiring concert pianist attending Lakeside High School. He began playing piano at age 5 and has been studying under pianist Nino Merabishvili since age 7. Ma is an accomplished pianist who won first prize in the NW Chopin Competition, Bach Festival, Sonata-Sonatina Festival, and the Washington State Music Teachers Association solo and concerto piano scholarship competitions.

“I’ve been selected as one of eight pianists in the world to participate in the Sergei Babayan International Piano Academy, I’ve performed with the Seattle Symphony, and I’ve been acknowledged by one of the world’s foremost musical institutions, all of which I thought to be impossible,” Ma said.

Ma has participated in the Perugia MusicFest and the Aspen Music Festival and School, performing as the finale to the concert held in the prestigious Aspen Benedict Music Tent.

As a prizewinner of the 2013 American Protégé Piano and Strings International Competition, Max also recently performed at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in New York.

“In just a couple months, I will have the tremendous honor and privilege of studying under the tutelage of Dr. Yoheved Kaplinsky, chair of the piano department at The Juilliard School in New York, at The Juilliard School Pre-College,” Ma said. “I plan on continuing to grow as a student of music, to meet and be inspired by those with similar passions to my own, and to share what I’ve learned and how I sincerely feel about music with the rest of the world.

“I know that music and the incessant pursuit of pianistic mastery will forever be a part of my life.”

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